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  • Customer questions labor charges – WWYD?

    Posted by Tom on June 12, 2013 at 6:04 am

    Quoting from the customer’s email:

    “The labor cost on my bill was $XXX. We were there one hour. Is this the right (standard) amount?”
    The amount he refers to is definitely more than the theoretical “typical labor rate” in our area.
    How would you respond to the question?
    mhambaum replied 10 years, 11 months ago 10 Members · 9 Replies
  • 9 Replies
  • larrybloodworth

    June 17, 2013 at 11:22 am

    “We charge by the job, not by the hour.”

  • hemitom

    June 17, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Does a doctor charge by the hour? 🙂

  • Unknown Member

    Deleted User
    June 18, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Mr Customer: Thank you for the opportunity to clear up this misunderstanding. Our labor charges are based on an industry standard “labor time guide” that is used by all reputable repair facilities. These charges may or may not represent the actual time spent on the repair. We also employ technicians who are truly “experts” at what they do, which results in increased efficiency for us and for you. A skilled technician can often diagnose and repair a problem much faster than a lesser skilled one. This results in less down time for you and your vehicle. Because our skilled techs are able to finish jobs quickly, while ensuring high quality, that allows us to get you back on the road faster. We would never want to keep you waiting just because the amount of time for your repair was shorter. We also would not want to ask you to pay additional labor for a standard repair if it was taking longer. I truly appreciate the opportunity to clear this up and continue to earn your trust. Please contact me directly with any other comments/concerns you may have.

    …… And then i would find a new software system that lists only the total cost of the job on the customer copy, and does not break down parts and labor (as long as your state allows it). 
  • nctransmission

    June 20, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Very nicely worded, Joe.  Very nice indeed.

  • Patrick McElroy

    June 25, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    I too, like Joe’s response. You can never know when someone might be having a bad day ( or week ) and take out their frustrations on you. A few months ago, customer Y was given a written estimate for a coolant flush for X amount of dollars. Parts and labor, taxes, and a full description for the service was included in the estimate. Two weeks later, customer Y made an appointment, was given a ride to and from work while the service was performed, paid, and went about his way. Two days later, customer Y mails me a letter with an estimate for a coolant flush at 1/2 of what we charged him and wants an explanation as to why I’m so expensive. His estimate has no description or detail other than the words ” coolant flush ” for X dollars. He wanted me to refund the difference in money since in his eyes, it was the same service. Customer Y has been a loyal customer for five years now and I consider him a good customer. I waited two days to respond to his letter so that I would be more calm and thoughtful with my response. I gave him the ol “apples and oranges” response and detailed the differences of my estimate with his bargain estimate. At the end of my letter, I thanked him for his past loyalty and welcomed him for any future services. However, I would NOT be refunding any money. His response to me was quote, “Have a nice life.”. Well, two months later, in walks customer Y with and electrical problem and spends $800 for the repair. He tells me it was his own fault for not getting a comparison price two months earlier and that he was having problems with his medications at the time. He has since been back five other times with two cars over the past year for repairs and routine services. Similar to Joe’s response, the key is to be professional, “stick to your guns”, and hopefully, most resonable people will understand.

  • Gus Swensen

    August 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Jmazur has the perfect response. But this is not a perfect world and most customers still will think the worst. Better to have them leave the car and call them later or just let them rest and enjoy your waiting area until the proper amount of hours have passed.

  • Raymond Wittneben IV

    August 8, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Yes…..confidently & friendly.  

  • jlwadhwa

    August 12, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    All over the world, the Automotive dealerships of Ford, Hyundai, Honda, GM etc. have standard guidelines for labor charges per hour and these have to be followed. It may be true that some of the hours prescribed may be less than the actual ( due to use of efficient diagnostic equipment) and some may be be more than theoretical. You can always fix your own charges with logical explanation-may be add 10 to 20% more but there is no reason to vary the charges from one visit to another repeat visit. That is one of the top 5 reasons for customer dissatisfaction in service. a good practice would be  to publish a menu of charges and display them on the workshop board, so that the customers can themselves compare the prices with the given estimates.These prices should include labor parts and lubricants and sub contract jobs. The prices can be revised as and when the individual prices change. I have experienced that you might loose on some labor charges and gain on others. eventually, it balances out. as long as we make efforts to bring in more volumes of work, by effective contact and follow up  by reminders of service, you will start gaining profits. Then this variation becomes irrelevant.the service has to be treated like a professional business with emphasis on customer satisfaction. Do I sound preachy?-but believe me his is the way.This is a part of Total quality Management concept in automotive service Industry.

    Thanks for initiating the discussion.
  • mhambaum

    August 13, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Quoting from the customer’s email:

    “The labor cost on my bill was $XXX. We were there one hour. Is this the right (standard) amount?”

    Hi Tom,

    Not knowing the whole story (context) makes crafting a response difficult, but here’s one that might work…

    Regarding your question, “Is this the right (standard) amount?” The answer is both yes and no. I don’t mean to be flippant, but that is the simple truth.

    There are labor guide publications that provide labor time standards. However, it’s important to note that these are only GUIDELINES. No two vehicles are exactly alike and no two repair shops are exactly alike in terms of warranty, staffing, expertise, tooling, parts inventory, and other business considerations that impact labor times AND labor rates.

    We do our best to provide the best price/value relationship with every service that we provide.

    I hope I’ve clearly answered your question. I hope also that you’re completely satisfied with every aspect of our service, including the price/value relationship. I intend to follow up with you within the next week or so. If in the meantime you have any questions or concerns, please contact me immediately by email or phone.


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